"Guys, I'm not finding a heartbeat today."
My own heart sank. Crushed. Deflated in a moment, ten weeks of hopes and dreams crashing down around me.
I felt numb, unable to move. Frozen in the sonogram chair, thinking, "Oh God, not again."
Even now as I sit here writing this, the memory is crystal clear in my mind.
Even now as I sit here, with my miracle, rainbow baby hiccuping inside me.
Even now after four losses, though the sting has lessened the memory remains.
October 15th is Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day. And if you have experienced the loss of a child, you are 1 in 4.
I am in 1 in 4.
The doctor came in and gave me a hug and started talking about testing. It was all a blur. This was our second loss. This was supposed to be OK. This was the pregnancy that went right after the first miscarriage. The one so many women have and then go on to have healthy babies. I walked down to the parking garage and scraped my car against a yellow pole backing out. The marks are still there. I called my dad on the way home and had to tell him that my baby had died.
I pulled into the driveway and called to schedule my D&C. Friends came over, brought dessert. Just sat there with me. I had 36 hours before surgery. I sat in the tub and talked to my baby who was no longer living and told him or her that I was sorry and that I loved them. I walked around, sat on the couch, knowing that there was no longer life inside me. And cried.
*Our first loss was around 6 weeks. Karlyn was 15 months old. We hadn't told anyone, not even our parents. We got to tell them because we needed a babysitter so we could go to the hospital. We had planned to tell some friends that very night. We left the hospital with inconclusive information as to what was happening. But we lost the baby later that night.
*Our second loss was the story I told above. We heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks and at 10 weeks, it was gone. They said the baby had stopped growing about a week before.
*Our third loss was a chemical pregnancy. I got a positive pregnancy test after using fertility drugs and then on Mother's Day, a negative test. It was gone as quick as it came.
*Our fourth loss - the pregnancy never took off correctly. For an agonizing entire week, I sat around receiving beta numbers that just weren't rising correctly. Finally, I got a call while at work that the number had gone down. I was losing this baby too.
Loss changes you. To anticipate that new life, a new addition, a BABY and then have that stripped away, rips your heart out and you're never the same. Pregnancy can never be the same. You'll look at any kids you do have or are yet to have differently - I can assure you that. Miracles. Every child, every person that comes into this world is a miracle. A gift.
But is loss a gift? I became so angry. So doubtful. So many negative thoughts...and...God doesn't think:
I'm good enough
I can handle this
I deserve it
For years I wondered how our story would play out. If Karlyn would be our only one. What I could DO to help our situation. New vitamin, supplement, fertility drug, trying, not trying, this procedure, that test. Was life just going to keep passing us by when we so desperately longed to add to our family?
I know the questions, doubts, and fears that come. And if you too friend have walked this road, my heart goes out to you today, on this day of remembrance. No mother should have to grieve the loss of her child - no matter the age. In the womb or outside. I do believe that our losses can be redeemed and what that redemption looks like is different for everyone.
I learned of specific health issues through testing after my second loss that have enabled me to help others. Ryan and I gained empathy for others walking this road, when before it had never even crossed our minds. I look at my daughter - and soon to be daughters - with awe. And fear, of ever losing them. I worried yesterday that I hadn't felt this baby move enough. Because the fear never leaves.
The memories, pain, sorrow, never leave. They just fade a little. And you're left with a part of your heart reserved for that sweet little face you never got to kiss, that hand you never got to hold, and that child you didn't raise.
Mamas who have lost, I stand with you today holding your hand and hugging you if I could. Our stories may all be different - but they all matter. Know that, always.
You matter. Your babies matter. Their lives matter and they left a mark on this world, though short it may have been.
Will you join me in lighting a candle tonight for the babies we have lost? At 7:00 PM. Let's remember these sweet lives and pay tribute to the women who carried them.